Wherever I May Roam - One Woman Livin' on a DR650

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Feyala, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    I agree. A few have tried to convert DR650 rims to tubeless ... most times they end up leaking. Fixing flats is a royal pain .... my advice? Get help!
    The good news is that in Mexico ... there are "llanteros" everywhere. (tire repair). Even small villages have a tire repair guy ... and they are GOOD and cheap. ($3 to $5 to change a tube and patch your old one good as new. :clap Learn to ride your loaded bike with a flat. Just ride to the tire shop. It may destroy tube ... but better than baking in the sun on the highway. I carry 3 spare tubes on long rides ... and buy another if one is ruined.
  2. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

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    I feel kind of weird for saying this, because one of my phobias is folks in white coats with sharp implements, but I'd like to avoid general anesthesia if possible, simply because it has its own risks. The cavity-riddled wisdom tooth is already a bit loose, so I don't think it'd be too hard to pull. I'm not sure about the half-exposed sideways one. :cry I'll definitely be looking into my options. The cavity one worries me a bit because I don't know if it's infected or abcessed (I've been treating it with raw garlic just in case), if it is, I might not be able to wait the month and a half for my passport renewal to go through to take care of it. We'll see what the consultation says, then at least I'll know what I'm in for either way.

    Well, we put in new steering head bearings with plenty of waterproof grease not that long ago. I'm not worried about that. The top nut wasn't "wiggle loose", but it sure didn't feel like the 65 foot pounds the manual suggests so I snugged it up. The steering has felt a bit too uh, "responsive" since the replacement, and I figure tightening the nut couldn't hurt. Whether it did a damn thing remains to be seen! :lol3 If this doesn't work I'll poke around some more.

    Those are the exact same bags I had on the Rebel. :rofl It's good to know somebody likes them at least! I found that my balance of weight had to be almost equal or they'd start sagging on one side, melt on the exhaust, etc. I ended up making a bag spacer as part of the rack for the Rebel which solved the problem completely (I know there are soft bag racks which do this for the DR). It's entirely possible that I am just a packrat and carry too much shit. Also, I like that my boxes lock. Might just be a mental thing, but I hate leaving soft bags on a bike when I park in a city, or anywhere that the bike will be out of my view...

    Wait, the stink is optional?! Where do you buy this substance?

    I'll have to give ears a shot then! Thanks! :thumb

    That sounds terrifying! :eek1 I'd be more afraid of wrecking the rim... I'll just be sweating for an hour next to the highway fixing it, thanks!
  3. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Good luck with the consultation. It may be counter-intuitive ... but trust me ... being knocked out for Wisdom teeth is the only way to go. Ask around.
    Something else is up. Could be the difference to loaded or unloaded bike? Or tires. Tires can really fool you on the DR650. Worn tires really mess up the DR.
    The Nelson Rigg bags are supported ... they never sag and 30% more room than the tourmaster's. I've yet to tour with mine ... SOON!

    [​IMG]
    These are either GIVI or Happy Trails racks. Excellent! Keeps them off the pipe ... even when stuffed with Wine bottles! Soft bags weight are taken 90% on the straps that go over the seat. These racks don't crack like with hard bag racks ... which must support ALL the weight.

    Below is my set up on my first trip to Baja on my DR650. These are Givi E-41 bags. Great bags but when you add up the racks, hardware and the bags themselves, they added almost 35 lbs. ... EMPTY!

    PS: A 5TH grader with a screw driver can break into any hard bag. But I totally understand your feeling. Go with hard bags if they calm you down.
    That is important! Relax ... Have Fun!

    [​IMG]
    Following the Baja 1000 course back in 2007. The DR was OK but was squirrely in more technical terrain. When I switched to soft bags and dropped 40 lbs. the bike was TRANSFORMED! MUCH BETTER!
  4. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

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    I got up and headed to a nearby cafe. Nip randomly discovered me, and decided to join me for breakfast. We spoke about what I might encounter at Saline Valley for an hour or so. He was obviously quite concerned for my safety in his own way, which was touching. At one point he pronounced that "you got some big hairy balls on you girl!" Um. Thanks, I guess?

    I packed up my stuff and crammed it all on the bike. Nip brought out a baggie full of trail mix as a gift. Aww.

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    After assuring him that I had at least 3 liters of water, I gave Nip a hug and set off around 11:30. It was nice to be on the road again, the sky was clear and the landscape opened up in front of me. There's just something about being on an endless highway that screams freedom to me. Maybe I've listened to "Born to be Wild" one too many times.

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    I aimed for Bishop. I needed to get a new ratchet, having apparently left mine in Oregon, as well as stock up on some supplies for a few days off the grid. You wouldn't think that a store with a giant chicken on the roof would have a lot of vegetarian food, but a lot of rock climbers visit this area. Many of them are vegetarian, so I had a nice selection.

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    I merged onto highway 168 and started looking for Death Valley Road.

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    There was a nice big sign pointing the way to Saline Valley. Shortly thereafter, more signs informed me that everything was closed. From other reports of the road conditions, I knew to expect this, but it drove the reality of what I was about to do home for me.

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    As did this:

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    However, they should have added "... Eventually" to that sign, because it was a flagrant lie. The pavement went on for another half hour, winding through canyons. I had it all to myself.

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    The tension built until I finally saw the entrance to Saline Valley Road. They'd covered it with scary-looking warnings to keep out the unwary, including "High Clearance 4 Wheel Drive Vehicles Only".

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    Well, this was it. Win, lose, or draw, there's no turning back now...

    The road began innocently enough, nice, wide, smooth dirt. The only thing to see in any direction was desert and mountains. It was lovely.

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    My path followed the contours of the land, rising and falling. It switchbacked steeply down this hill, with some rocks which made me extra careful, but nothing that I couldn't handle. It reminded me a bit of Hess Road, at the Hells Canyon rally. I thought about how nervous I was back then and laughed.

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    At the bottom, there were some buildings, one of which looked abandoned, the others seemed to see regular use. Some men were working on the side of the road near that tower, but I didn't have time to stop and chat. I needed to be at the springs before it got dark, and it was already almost four.

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    Out of nowhere, there was some deeper sand in a corner, I saw it just in time. Gingerly, I tried not to steer too sharply, and managed to make it through without dropping it. The road slowly ascended, breaking into the treeline.

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    Dropping into a canyon, the route became rocky and washed out, though it was clear that an effort had been made to push the majority off to the sides. I didn't stop at the worst part, it was definitely a one-lane road with many blind corners, and the idea of meeting somebody coming the other direction was very unappealing. After the previous few days, even the worst was a cakewalk by comparison.

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    The road returned to the placid, rolling hills from earlier. I stood on the pegs and let the dirt and rocks fly underneath me, going about 30mph or so. At one point I crested a hill and the valley opened up below me, the view heartbreakingly beautiful. I found myself beginning to appreciate the desaturated emptiness of the landscape, harsh but straightforward. It's difficult to express just how vast this area is with pictures. It can be deceptive even to the naked eye, the clarity of the air here means that things which appear to be a few miles away might be 20, or more. This has proven deadly to those who become stranded.

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    Another rider had mentioned that the washouts on this road sneak up on you, and I definitely agree. The well-graded portions lull you into a false sense of security. I had my eyes peeled, but even still, I ran over a small one so quickly that I barely had time to react. I slowed down afterwards and became more vigilant, which is good, because some of them were pretty nasty, with larger rocks and soft, deep gravel. I did fine for the most part, but almost got stuck in one with a sharp turn, I was not able to maneuver as sharply as the road did, and ended up briefly wedged into a gravel pile. Thankfully, I was able to free myself by rocking back and forth.

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    About 40 miles in, the washes got much worse. At one point, there was a very large U-shaped dip in the road. I wondered how folks without high-clearance vehicles were able to make it past there. The last few miles before the turn off for the springs had some deep sand and occasional moon dust, and for the first time that day I felt honestly afraid. I slowed to a crawl. My feet were extended through most of it, and I tried not to think about the possibility of my leg getting trapped underneath my panniers as I dabbed from time to time to keep the bike upright.

    I was running out of daylight when I found the turnoff to the Hot Springs. This road had even more sand and moon dust, as it was crossed by many washes. I was relieved when I found the infamous "bat sign", which promised that I was nearly there.

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    Suddenly: burros. Approaching with extreme caution, I stopped the bike and walked a bit closer. They were fearless.

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    I pulled up to the springs as what little light remained quickly faded from the sky. There were lots of trucks with campers, a couple of RVs (?!), and various people milling around, far more people than I had expected there to be. I asked a random passerby where I should camp, and he pointed to a spot up on a little hill. I spotted a coyote darting away as I pulled up, a huge grin on my face. I was excited to have arrived without mishap, doubly so to be out of the sand before dark. Fuck yeah, I did it! I'm here!.

    My camp was assembled by flashlight. Afterwards, I introduced myself to my neighbor and he invited me to use his camp stove if I needed to cook anything. We swapped stories as I heated up and ate some Indian food with tortillas.

    I put on my swimsuit and headed down to the springs. Surprisingly alone, I slipped into a circular man-made pool, the nearly too-hot spring water blissfully relaxing after my long day. Reality disappeared as I floated, staring up at the full moon through the palm trees which were dancing in the wind. Perfect.
  5. pdxmotorhead

    pdxmotorhead Been here awhile

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    +1 on the "Knock my A** out club, and i had all 4 done just to get it over with you only need one go round and the healing time is the same... They are not really knocking you out, as in a general, , they just make it so your out enough not to care... I don't remember it but my wife said they could ask me to open my mouth and what not. All 4 of mine were in sideways.. and had long roots the Dr basically said he didn't want me awake cause it was not going to be pretty. I was amazed how much better I slept after getting them out, they tend to push on your teeth and mis-align your jaw..

    Plus I am a total dental weenie.. My first dentist at about 6 or 7 had the motto that "Novocaine was for wimps" and besides he only had to drill a little bit.. Bas*** stuck me to the ceiling a couple times..

    Good luck and take care of yourself...

    Dave
  6. Ratman

    Ratman Lucky Rider

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    Fey says...
    always interesting reports, Fey. I'm taking some personal satisfaction at being there to help you get your dirt legs under you. I think you have enough of a dirt primer behind you to learn the rest on your own and at your own speed. You go, girl....

    I must agree that when you drill down thru the years of Nips life, he's quite a guy.....and a good guy to be a friend of if ever near Lone Pine.

    Nip's been fighting his way thru carb problems on his DRZ the last couple weeks. We've been in contact over the phone a few times. This dualsporting expands a guy/gal in many ways.
  7. Steinbuck

    Steinbuck Adventurer

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    Try lamp oil. Here in Nor Cal it's available at OSH.
  8. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Plus One on the Lamp Oil. Good all purpose cleaner, degreaser ... no stink! :D
  9. NomadGal

    NomadGal Esther

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    I have yet to find a really nice quiet way from the crowds hot spring! Looking forward to doing so one day :D
  10. Jettn Jim

    Jettn Jim This is Liv'n!!!

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    :lurk yummy..........:1drink keep on keep'n on!
  11. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG

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    Bk Brkr baker had dental work done in Mexico. Good experience. He did a ride report around that visit.

    A friend of mine has those Nelson rigg bags, very good and quite large.

    If you want secure, use the soft side bags and get a good quality top case. Pelican or similar.
  12. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    A popular soft bag security addition for travelers is the "PAC-Safe" stainless
    netting (lock-able). A good deterrent ... will deter most casual thieves.
    Pelicans are pretty secure ... you can use two padlocks.
    (But a hack saw can cut the plastic) Great as a padded top case for cameras and electronics. Don't over weight your top case ... as can be hard on sub frame & mounting points.
    Plus, lots of weight that far back ruins handling. Caution.
  13. PaulGir

    PaulGir Adventurer

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    That's not a phobia - just common sense :rofl
  14. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

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    I'm playing some massive catch up, but just wanted to point out this is bad advice..

    By doing so, you limit the slip of the rear wheel by not locking up, but you cause massive issues by doing this. The bike becomes a moment arm forcing the front of the bike down. Not a huge issue you might think, but it applies varying load on the forks making them harsh, it affects handling, and it's just bad. Try it for yourself and you should instantly see the difference.

    Pull the clutch, learn to modulate your brakes and in the end you'll be way, way further ahead. Keeping the bike neutral on downhills is a massive benefit. Many 4-stroke riders don't realise this. 2-strokes don't have nearly the same engine braking so it plays much less of a factor.

    You learn where to brake, where to let off, and how to modulate them and things will start clicking.

    Good luck. Most newer riders have the most issues with decents.
  15. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    It's true, steep downhill takes practice and good technique. Pulling the clutch in ... I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND! :D Engine braking is your friend!

    Many novice riders are afraid to use the front brake ... thinking it will lock up and wash out. Most times ... it won't. But a balanced and delicate approach must be used. A mix of engine braking and use of BOTH brakes judiciously is what is required. Rear brakes ... obviously ... lock easily. So best to lightly drag the rear brake without locking. Requires practice and good feel to perfect.

    On super steep descents you must pick your braking areas. Some areas ...if you brake you will lock up and lose control. Others, you can hammer the brakes and get slowed down before approaching a truly knarly section. Picking high traction braking zones is critical ... PRACTICE. This involves having good terrain reading skills. Takes a while to get this.

    If huge rocky steps are involved (think a "Trials Section) ... best to dismount and "Bull Dog" the bike down the steps .... get help if possible.
    Loose rocky scree is especially tricky on a heavy dual sport ... and it's easy to lock up both ends and go careening down the mountain out of control. Been there, done that. :cry

    Noobs need to work up to Enduro level challenges. It took me years of AMA
    Enduro competition to learn downhills and lose fear of them.

    On the DR650 ... or any heavy dual sport, this is a daunting task and even experts have trouble.

    Noobs need to learn to use their front brake aggressively and take it right to the edge of lock up. 80% of braking is here. With low pressure (12 to 14 PSI) and a good front knobby (not a 50/50 dual sport tire) you will get traction where you would not think possible. Trust it.

    Lower than stock gearing can also can be of help as more engine braking is offered ... giving riders hands & wrists a rest break in flatter sections of the hill.
  16. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

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    Still don't agree with it. I feel that's covering bad habbits with more bad habbits. Most often then not new riders on 4-stroke dirt bikes have a MAJOR issue with downhill because of engine braking. They continue to use this and act as if it's required. They remain slow. I know life's not about the race, but learning where improvements can be made make big differences.

    Go down a hill and engine brake. Now, pull in the clutch. Yes, you pick up speed but skills like brake balance should be learnt. NEVER just use one brake. Always brake with both. Those that don't use front brakes often come from road bikes or harley's. Sport bike riders often don't use their rear brakes. Both are wrong.

    Two wheel slides are controllable even while standing. You don't learn if you don't try. Then again, around here you learn to sink or swim real quick.

    Learning involves mistakes. Learn from mistakes. Instead of bull dogging down, when safe, givver shit. Roost around corners, lock up your front tire on wet grass going straight. Push the locked tire going straight. Slide into and around corners with the rear locked. Try things. Before long you'll realise you learn to fall. Falling properly is a learnt reaction.

    These are all techniques to learn. Know the limits of your bike then learn to control it within those limits. Learn to let off the brakes in a downhill and absorb bumps, then brake hard in sections where braking allows. Play off obstacles. Don't always take the easy line, ESPECIALLY when there are slower riders. Use this opprounity to learn and push skills. ALWAYS LOOK AHEAD. You should know what your next moves are. Don't focus on a rock step. Plan what you are going to do after gasing (yes, gas DOWNHILL, to remain neutral) then where you'll scrub speed, etc.

    Downhill's are some of my favourite. They are also times where I catch most people. I've seen countless newer riders have trouble with downhills but also seen those who try make massive improvements, quickly.

    Since I'm rambling, learn to wheelie. You don't have to hold a standup wheelie for a mile, but learn to pop the wheel. This is the single biggest skill that can save you HUGE. Not only in panic manuevers, but jumping ruts, root sections, rock sections, step downs, etc. When you don't have a front wheel on the ground, it can't deflect. Most riders panic because the front will skip over, especially in roots, ruts, and downed trees. Once you can pop the front you can also learn to jump trees. Jump multiple trees. It becomes fun!

    At the end of the day, you learn by trying. Find out what works for yourself. You don't even have to go for a "ride", just play around staging areas with obstacles. Repetition is one of the best ways to get better.
  17. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

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    just went to a shane watts class, where the drills were pretty much all of the above.....
  18. Patj551

    Patj551 Been here awhile

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    Don't want to hijack your thread Fey....been lurking in the background but thoroughly enjoying your ride reports. :clap

    I'm a former pro Motocross racer. When I retired from racing MX I began racing downhill mountain bikes professionally. Riding a motorcycle or bicycle downhill can be a daunting task. Regarding dirt bike skills & for that matter any motorcycle riding skills they are best learned on smaller bikes in controlled situations. The fact that you're learning on a fully loaded & heavy DR650 makes the challenge even more daunting. I'm impressed you're doing amazingly well riding AND wrenching. Kudos to you!

    I'm careful with the words "always" and "never." There are times when engine braking is appropriate, grabbing the clutch & coasting while dragging the rear brake, sometimes coasting in neutral works, and sometimes I use the rear brake alone. They're all different skills. I'm not a fan of neutral coasts, but if you ever break your chain you may wind up in that situation so best to know how to deal with it. (I once raced in a "chainless downhill race" in Moab were all you could do is coast)

    This may sound a little backwards but momentum is your friend (controlled) going down hill. Again, you're on a fully loaded bike, but getting your weight over the rear axle and dragging the rear brake (remember to clutch to keep from stalling) or engine braking is a great start. The last thing you want to do is lock up the front end & "superman" over the bars. Once you're comfortable with that technique add some light front brake, preferably when the bike is in a straight line on tacky or clear terrain. That said, remember momentum is your friend. It's amazing what these bikes will roll over & through with a little momentum.

    IMHO "line choice" is critical in all aspects of riding but more so in downhill. I tend to look for straight lines, linking them with turns. I'll choose a line with a larger SOLID ROCK over smaller loose rocks. When riding technical downhill I often pick up speed through gnarly sections and then brake check myself in safer straight sections. I look far downhill, stay flexible, & keep my weight back or centered. There are many techniques.

    You go girl! I think you're doing awesome! Ride safe!
  19. UFObuster

    UFObuster Adventurer

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    ..interest in this thread leads to question: how tall is Fey?
    The dr650 is attractive...stock bike: who is riding and how tall?
    thanks..
  20. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

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    Alright, I'll keep my eye peeled. I assume the stuff I can find in small quantities at the dollar store with pigment probably contains waxes that are no bueno for degreasing, right?

    You should! Without people willing to 'babysit' me, I'd be taking far fewer chances and learning a lot more slowly!

    He's probably got it sorted by now, but I wish him good luck! He's good people.

    Yeah, I don't have a problem with giggle gas and local anesthetics, I just don't like generals. A not-insignificant number of people die every year just from anesthesia. It's mostly old people, but I just don't want to roll those dice if I can help it!

    Hot springs alone are the best thing ever...

    Will do! :thumb

    I'll have to check out that RR when I get closer to goin' south. It's always good to have a better idea what to expect. So thanks!

    And yeah, I'd love to, but I can't do a top case with all of my clothes and stuff strapped on top. We'll see, I'll figure this stuff out eventually. :)

    I dunno, a lot of people seem to be perfectly happy going under the knife. Brrr. No thanks...